making equal contributions in the performance of cognitive tasks. The second central theme of the book is the mark of the cognitive. The need for amark of the cognitive has been famously promoted by Adams & Aizawa (2008) andRupert (2004) and more recently endorsed by Weiskopf (2010a, 2010b). Its necessityhas been postulated, even if with dissimilar goals, by some friends of EMT [seeRowlands (2008) and particularly Wheeler (2005, forthcoming)]. However, Clark (2008,2010a,2010b) and Sutton (2010) have resisted this claim on the grounds that itunnecessarily complicates EMT. Let me dig a bit more into this. According to Rupert,EMT needs a mark of the cognitive if it is to succeed in arguing that the environment isplaying a constitutive role in the emergence of a cognitive process. The need for sucha mark follows from the necessity to distinguish factors that are genuinely parts of acognitive system from factors that only causally contribute and don’t have anyconstitutive involvement. Rupert individuates the locus of such a mark in the organismand his view of cognitive systems, discussed above, is taken as a measure todistinguish what is cognitive from what is not. Particularly, Rupert believes that whathappens within the biological cogniser (the set of mutual interrelations between bodyand brain) can entirely account for cognition. What is external to the bio-physicalarchitecture of the organism can only ever make a causal contribution. The debatearound the mark of the cognitive famously emerged from the discussion of the causal-constitutional conflation. Some people assume (and Rupert certainly stands amongthem) that this conflation entails the need for a mark of the cognitive. Rupert providesone that entails that an external resource can make a cognitive contribution tobehaviour only if it corresponds in a fine-grained way with the causal contribution of our inner states. There are specific psychological effects for instance (e.g. negativetransfer, primacy and chunking effects) that we do not find in cases of extendedmemory. Because of this failure of fine-grained correspondence we shouldn’t treat useof external resources in memory tasks as cognitive uses. We should say instead thatthe external resource is only making a causal contribution.Now, as I stated above, Clark (2008, 2010a, 2010b) believes that the attempt toidentify a mark of the cognitive is unlikely to bear fruit
. First of all Clark denies thatthe differences in fine-grained functional role of the external and internal matter,arguing instead that the sort of functional equivalence that counts for the parityargument is determined at a fairly coarse-grained level. If the cognitive were markedout by a fine-grained correspondence, this would prevent us from attributing cognitionto creatures that are appreciably different (either biologically or psychologically ) fromus. The demand for a fine-grained correspondence requires us to scale new heights of neurocentrism and anthropocentrism. Cognition, as far as Clark is concerned, doesnot necessarily necessitate minds that work in the same fine grained ways as humanminds work. Additionally, since the differences between “
external-looping (putatively cognitive) processes and purely inner ones will be no greater than those between theinner ones themselves” (
it is likely that the inner goings-on, postulatedby opponents of EMT, will turn out to be a motley crew
Clark has in fact brilliantlynoticed, that we already possess a practical grasp on the kinds of coarse-grainedbehaviour patterns that we presume to be characteristic of key cognitive processes,such as the holding of a standing (dispositional) belief (Clark, 2010b). A very basic andrelatively liberal appeal to folk psychology would therefore suffice to guide us inworking out what counts as cognitive and what does not. Wheeler has recentlydisagreed arguing that EMT needs ‘‘
a scientifically informed, theory loaded,locationally uncommitted account of the cognitive
”. (Wheeler, 2010). Clark hasresponded that such a quest is unnecessary and unlikely to succeed. The
shape andthe contour of any such a theory will always and ultimately be determined by whatone takes as central examples of real-world realisers of cognitive processes. (Clark,2010b).
Also see Sutton (2010); and Menary (2007) for similar arguments.